Monday, March 30, 2009

Asshat Rant - Drowning Ferals

I find it deplorable that some of my neighbours drown cats. Yes, we have a major problem with stray and feral cats in our area, but that doesn't mean that you have to take matters into your own hands by drowning them!

Some of them trap the cats, then either leave them in the traps or put them in bags. Then they submerge the traps or bags into buckets or ponds. When they are sure the cat is dead, they pull it up, dump the body and reset the live animal trap.

It disgusts and infuriates me. We have a problem with cats, yes. That doesn't mean the best resolution is to drown them. Did you know it is considered Animal Cruelty and illegal? Pffft ... not like my neighbours give a darn about that!

Did you know, barn cats eat your mice? I have heard all sorts of excuses from farmers and I would like to say for the record ... No, the cats don't eat your chickens. No, the cats don't eat your eggs. No, the cats didn't cause your tractor to stop working. Those are the mice, rats, 'coons and fishers! Did you know that most barn cats will actually eat the mice, rats and fishers in the area?

Now, the raccoons ... that's another story. The cats won't deal with them - you'll have to figure that one out yourselves (legally and humanely).

Saturday, March 28, 2009

TNR Adventures - #1 Knight and #2 Smokey

To begin the TNR, I started with the cats in my own barn. I began trapping them, taking them to the clinic and paying for their neuter/vaccinations/microchips (the ones I trap for the Humane Society will be paid for by them, but we started with our guys and it's only right to pay for your own - even if you didn't ask for them to be there).

Each cat is scanned for a microchip when they are brought into the clinic just in case they already have an owner. So far we haven't found any that have one.

We rate them on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the most friendly in-your-face love me now because I deserve it, 10 being super duper feral, expel anal glands, attack and possibly defecate when handled).

Did you know that every animal going under anesthetic has to have a name? Does anyone know if this is a requirement by the OVMA? I was told that it was, but am not sure of the source ...

Cat number one was all black. Beautiful DSH guy. A whopping 9 lbs. He was rated 8 by the clinic on the 'feral' scale. The clinic named him Knight. He was estimated to be 5 years old. A royal little hell-cat. He had some dental issues as well and since he was in for surgery anyway, we said to go ahead and remove the bad teeth since we don't want them to absess. They also cleaned his good teeth at no charge (since he's a barn cat). Since we did so much work on him and he received an AB shot, we couldn't release him right away, so we ended up with him in our garage for five days in a dog crate with food, water and a litter box. Man oh man did he ever stink!

I would like to say for the record that intact adult male cat smells bad. Even days after their neuter surgery. They still stink.

Knight was re-released into our barn on the fifth day after his surgery. In total, we kept him for a week (including the day before the surgery when we trapped him, plus the day of his surgery). He was so happy to be back in his familiar barn - I haven't ever seen a cat move that quick.

Cat number two is 22 lbs of long haired grey. We think he is a Maine Coon mix since he isn't obese and he has the ear tufts. You can see the picture to the left. That is him. We named him Smokey. He is rated at a 1. He is an in-your-face cat that assumes every time you sit down on a chair that you have invited him to sit on your lap.
Smokey was in our barn for 5 months before we caught him. We thought it a shame to put him back out in the barn since he seemed so friendly.
Smokey gets along with other cats, but hates dogs. I mean hates. He looks at them through the window and actually growls at them. He is currently staying with two dogs that he will chase around the house and tackle. It is not a game (unlike a similar one played by the resident cat and said dogs).
The dogs actually fear him and won't walk by him anymore in case he will attack. He is not currently with us, but may come back in the next few weeks (or we will find another home for him). He can not stay where he is - he's causing too much problems with the dogs. Our dogs are more stable and can deal with a cat that attacks (we already have one that ambushes the dogs and one that body checks the dogs when they walk by).
Thus concludes the first edition of TNR Adventures. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What is it? - TNR

TNR is an acronym for Trap, Neuter and Release. TNR is a program that was developed as a humane method for stray and feral cat population control. As you've heard me say a few times, in my area (as in so many others) we are inundated with stray and feral cats.

When I started volunteering for the Humane Society, I found that the amount of calls that came in each and every day regarding stray cats in our area was staggaring. I began looking at what we could do in our area to help control the numbers. TNR was what I found.

TNR is exactly as it sounds ...

Trap the cats in humane live animal traps

Neuter the cats by licensed veterinarians

Release the cats where you found them

The logistics of it aren't very complicated, but it still takes someone willing to coordinate the efforts of volunteers. There is funding out there too, if you can get your hands on it. We are only able to neuter as many cats as we can afford. There will always be more. There will never be enough money. But we do what we can and hope it is enough to make a dent.

Doing something is always better than doing nothing.

If every person out there neutered their own cats, you would notice a difference in your local community in as little as a few years.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Asshat Rant - Dumping

I was at a local farm this weekend and was discussing their recent acquisition of a barn cat. She's a small, bony rug-rat who absolutely loves people and will sit on your shoulder if you let her. They got this cat because one of their neighbours has a barn full of cats and one day a terrible thing happened. You know how we always say "worst case scenario"? Well, this is what that poor guy got ... the worst case.

Here's how it all went down:

Said farmer has many barn cats. They make kittens yearly (don't get me started). This is normal in most barns. Many farmers will vaccinate the cats they can catch, neuter some of the male cats and send many kittens on their way. They feed them and their children pet them and play with them. Most of these cats become quite friendly little guys. In return, most of the cats help to keep the mouse, rat and fisher population down (see picture to right to see what a fisher is).

One day the farmer went outside and saw all these crates at the end of his driveway. He goes over and finds all these purebred cats! There were 97 cats in all those crates. There were hairless cats, there were cornish rex cats, there were persian cats, there were siamese cats, there were himalayan cats. What the heck is the poor farmer to do?

The only thing he can think of. He takes the crates and moves them to a sheltered location, then puts an ad in the local Buy and Sell to sell all these cats. He was successful selling most of the specialty breeds; the hairless, cornish rex, himalayan and siamese went quickly. He was not able to sell most of the persians. Now he's stuck with all these persians and no one wants them. Have you ever tried to have persians in a barn? It's not a pretty sight.

So, now he's feeding all these cats. The final count after selling many of the dumped cats (plus sending much of the barn kittens to other barns) is 74. That includes all the barn cats that are staying at their place plus the "new" cats that he can't seem to find homes for. I don't know about you, but feeding 74 cats gets to be quite expensive!

To my knowledge, this is a true story. I have many things to say to the person who dumped all those cats. Most of them I'm not allowed to post to this blog if I want to keep it from being put in the "Adults Only" section of most blogs. I will only say this. Asshat.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Feral Cats - Handling 101

When you're out trapping feral cats for the first time, the last thought you often have is ... how do you get it out of the trap? Well, at least it was for me!

When I first started trapping for the TNR program, I was pretty clueless and since we haven't many active volunteers in the area, I was sort of encouraged to learn as I go. Sure, there were people always willing to pick up the phone and talk you through something, but when it comes down to having someone go out and actually show you? THAT'S not going to happen! Talk is cheap.
See this cute picture of Sylvester? Don't expect ANY ferals you catch to be like him (if they are than the cat is NOT feral - it is simply a stray)! Note that I will do a Feral Cats vs. Stray Cats - Identification post later this weekend for those who are still confused.
Have you ever seen the Looney Tunes where Sylvester drinks the tonic in a laboratory in the episode called "Dr. Jerkyl's Hide"?? THAT's what a feral cat is like. (See pic below to the right) I don't know about you, but there was NO WAY I was sticking MY hands in there!

So, once you have successfully trapped a snarling, rolling feral cat ... what do you do? I don't mean the shy ones, or the quiet ones. I mean the real feral ones where the trap actually rolls along the ground because they are just that strong and just that wigged out.

I did the only thing I could think of - I put a blanket down in my vehicle and put the entire live animal trap with the cat in it in! I took him to my house where I proceeded to move him from the trap to a crate/carrier. I thought a contained area would be best. For this particular cat / situation ... that was likely the best choice.
So what you do is you put the two openings up to each other - end to end - than you cover both with blankets and open the doors. If the cat doesn't move from one side to the other, you remove the blankets from the trap (while leaving them on the crate). The cat will go into the crate because it will be looking for a safe place.

Voila! That's how you get it out of the trap. Beware the crazy cats as described above and pictured to the right ... they can be dangerous!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What is it? - Neutering

Since this is only the third post, I thought I'd post about Neutering. I have found that although most people have had a pet during their lifespan, most don't know or understand what Neutering means. Many simply know it as a form of population/birth control for animals.

Neutering is another word for the surgical alteration of your pet that removes the animal's reproductive organs. For females, it is called Spaying which involves the surgical removal of the animal's ovaries (ovario-hysterectomy). For males, it is called Castration which is the surgical removal of the animal's testicals.

One of the most frustrating things I see when working with animals are people who see this surgery as a simple procedure. All sorts of animals go through it all the time, so therefore we see it as normal.

It may be common for the vets and vet techs that are working at the clinic, but it is not common practice to the animal - male or female. Yes, I know that a cat neuter is pretty simple ... I've done them during my job at the vet clinic (let's not get into that). But that doesn't mean that it doesn't cause the cat pain. It doesn't mean that the cat knows that it is a simple procedure. It is extremely invasive

Neutering is MAJOR surgery!

Next time you take an animal in to the vet clinic for neutering, please remember to follow the guidelines that vet sets out for you! They are often things like "keep the animal quiet" and "prevent jumping". They might possibly include "crate overnight to keep calm" and also "feed sparingly for the first 24 hours".

Have you ever seen a spay incision pop open because the cat went to jump onto a counter, missed and hit her abdomen on the corner? It's not a pretty sight, let me tell you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Trapping 101 - Don't catch the striped ones

I'm relatively new at trapping cats. In fact - I've never done it. I have handled many stray and feral cats during my time working at a vet clinic and even some during my work at the Humane Society, but I've never been the one doing the trapping. Because of this, it is quite a big learning curve for me!

For any of you who are also trying to help, I thought I'd post some Trapping 101 Tips / Rules so you don't have to deal with some of the things I have had to deal with. Maybe you could learn from my mistakes!

If you know where the cats are, you just set the trap and come back the next day, right? Well, that's the easiest way to do it; but also the most dangerous. Here's the thing ... I have found that if you leave a trap over night, bad things may happen ...

"What could be bad?" You may be asking ... Well, you never know who or what you'll catch!

You may get a cat, yes. Or, you may get a black and white furry creature that looks an awful lot like a smelly striped cat ... until it starts its "dance".

Did you know that skunks have a little warning dance they do before they spray? Basically they stomp their feet and if you still don't go away, than they turn away from you (still stomping) and lift their tail ... if you still don't get the "hint" than you are ... well, sprayed.

If you leave a trap over night you never know who you will catch. Please remember that here in Ontario it is illegal for anyone without a valid Wildlife Rehabilitator Permit to keep a wild animal for more than 24 hours - you may want to check with your local province/state regulations to see what their laws are about wildlife. I don't even think it's legal to trap wildlife without said permit, but I'm not sure on that one - and my trapping was an accident.

So how do you extract a skunk from a live animal trap? VERY CAREFULLY!

The best way I found (keeping in mind that I only had to do this once - I learned my lesson PDQ) was to hold a big blanket in front of you and approach the trap from the direction furthest away from the door. Drape the blanket CAREFULLY and SLOWLY over the trap so not to startle the skunk.

Then, lean over the trap and open the door from the side opposite to the one he will come out of. That way, if he turns to you to pay you for the lodging over night, you are able to graciously back away and thank him for spending the night, but let him know that you aren't interested in any payment.

If at any time your new skunk friend has had enough play time with you and wants you to get out of there quick ... I'd listen. If you don't listen ... RUN ... RUN FAST and don't look back until you're way outta sight.

Or at least, don't come visit with me for tea later, ok? Wait until after your tomatoe juice bath.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why DrowningInCats?


I write a blog daily about dogs called DogsDeserveFreedom. In this blog, I cover the trials and tribulations of dogs and the asshats who own them. Sometimes I blog about breeding, sometimes about training. Mostly I just blog!

I wander through CraigsList a lot and I volunteer for my local Humane Society. During these wanderings and parusals, I have a lot to say ... but few people to listen.

One of the many jobs I do as a volunteer is I run the Trap/Neuter/Release program. It is a program that I worked with, planned and developed for my local area which is inundated with stray and feral cats. I knew we couldn't rehome all of them, but we can at least sterilize and vaccinate them to prevent the populations from growing too much out of control. I am not able to foster cats as my husband has allergies and my own cat is anti-social (he was a semi-feral when he came in), but I do what I can.

I believe this world is Drowning In Cats and I have toyed with the idea of starting a cat related blog for a while now. This is the time to start; it's as good a time as any. This blog will be about anything cat related that I find and need to rant about or just want to blog about. I will likely include some interesting experiences during my TNR and some stories about ferals as I get to them.

Maybe if we all took one cat in to be Spayed/Neutered, we wouldn't be Drowning In Cats ... perhaps we'd only be Wading in them??

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